The golden rules of home improvement

March 01, 2019
Taryn Lee-Johnston

The most fundamental rule of home improvement is that it should add value to your home in some way, be that by increasing your enjoyment of it or by increasing its financial value (or both).  While everyone will have their own idea of what makes a perfect home, there are some basic rules of home improvement of which everyone should be aware.

Work out what you can do before you think about what you will do

Before you set about making any major updates to your home, double check what your house deeds say about it and what your insurance company thinks about it.  If there are no stumbling blocks here, then make sure you are clear on where you stand with regards to planning permission.  In particular, do not just assume that any adaptations to your home will be covered under “permitted development”.  Finally, you may want to stop and take some time to think about how your plans might impact your neighbours or to put it another way, just because you legally can do something, doesn’t mean that you necessarily should.  If your neighbours dislike your plans, then you will have to think about the benefits of the improvement versus the risk of jeopardising good neighbourly relations.

Be realistic about the impact the change will have on the resale price of your home

Even if a change does add value to your home, there is no guarantee that it will increase the eventual sales price by as much as you paid to make the change.  Therefore, in an ideal world, you should aim to make any major changes when you still anticipate living in the home over the long term so that you can benefit from them in terms of the improvement to your lifestyle.  The closer you get to the point where you are thinking of selling your home, the more carefully you should think about spending money on major updates, especially where they involve an element of personal taste.  For example, you might think that the industrial look is perfect for a kitchen in a modern home, but people who come to view your home may disagree and either move on to another property or put in an offer which takes into account the cost of removing the kitchen you’ve just had put in.

Use professionals (at least for major work)

While the problems of “cowboy builders” may make for good TV, there are plenty of good quality, reputable builders out there who have skills, tools and insurance and who can provide any documentation necessary to demonstrate that your build meets legal requirements.  Depending on what you are having done, they may also provide a warranty.  Before reaching out to builders for quotes, make sure you are clear in your own mind about what you want, but be prepared to listen if a prospective builder makes alternative suggestions, even if they are more expensive, just ask them to explain themselves in plain English and good builders will be happy to do so.  Only proceed with a contract once you are 100% sure that you and the builder are completely clear about what you have agreed and are happy that it can be delivered to the agreed time-frame and for the agreed price.  This is important with any form of contractual agreement and arguably especially important when it comes to building work since it is far easier to make changes to plans, timescales and budgets, while they are still on paper than to start changing your mind once a builder has begun putting up scaffolding or ripping up floorboards.

Do you have these?

Top 10 DIY nightmares:

  1. Woodchip wallpaper
  2. Mirrored ceilings
  3. Carpeted bathrooms
  4. Ugly blinds
  5. Fake beams
  6. Outside toilet
  7. Artex ceilings
  8. Internal stone cladding
  9. Beaded curtains in doorways
  10. External stone cladding

Top 10 DIY dreams:

  1. Interior redecoration
  2. Flooring replaced
  3. New bathroom
  4. Garden makeover
  5. New kitchen
  6. New boiler/ central heating system
  7. Double glazing / new windows
  8. New shed or garden building
  9. Exterior redecoration

10. Better insulation